KTM’s Marc Coma (above) outpaced rival Cyril Despres late in Stage 12 to take his fifth victory of the 2011 Dakar Rally.
Spaniard Marc Coma quickly responded to Cyril Despres’ win in the previous stage with a crushing victory in Stage 12 of the 2011 Dakar Rally. Coma took the win just 37 seconds ahead of his KTM rival in the final stretch as Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues occupied the final podium position in third and nearly three minutes ahead of Aprilia’s Francisco Lopez. Meanwhile, American Quinn Cody continued to improve in the rankings as the Honda rider placed fifth in the order and 15:45 behind Coma.
Competitors traveled 678 kilometers during the stage from San Juan to Cordoba and were met by difficult sandy sections which were made worse by rainfall the previous day. Despres was first off the starting line followed by Coma and Lopez, and for the majority of the day there were little changes in the top-four order. Frontrunners Despres and Coma were more than seven minutes ahead of Rodrigues heading through the first checkpoint, and by 200 km it appeared that Despres was beginning to pull away from the Spaniard. However, at the second checkpoint Coma had drastically cut into the Frenchman’s lead as Yamaha’s Rodrigues continued falling off the pace by more than eight minutes.
After 400 km Despres still had the best provisional time while Coma trailed by only 1:51. At the final checkpoint of the day Despres was in good form and leading by more than a minute and a half. However, with less than 100 km remaining the Frenchman lost the lead to his rival, who went on to capture his fifth stage victory of the 2011 rally and the 15th stage win of his career.
After taking second in Stage 12 Cyril Despres (above) now trails Marc Coma by more than 16 minutes with just one stage remaining.
Cody pulled off another strong performance for the second day in a row by finishing in the top-five for the U.S. As the highest placed American rider, Cody has been putting in great runs toward the end of the rally as he gains more experience in the event. Fellow countryman Jonah Street took 13th in the stage and has advanced to 12th overall in the rally after finishing more than 36 minutes adrift of Coma.
With just one stage remaining, Coma has increased his lead to nearly 17 minutes over Despres. Meanwhile, Lopez is less than an hour away from the leader as the rally prepares for its final leg which will take riders back to the original starting point in Buenos Aires.
Marc Coma (ESP – KTM) 1st, 1st OA
“Today was complicated due to all the rain that fell last night. As a result, it was a very technical stage, like in endurance racing. But it went fine. There is still a 190-km stage left to race tomorrow. Normally, there shouldn’t be any complications, but we still need to race them, it’s there to be done. It just shows that the route has been designed to ensure that there is suspense up to the end, so we’ll just have to wait and see tomorrow.”
Cyril Despres (FRA – KTM) 2nd, 2nd OA
“I had to go on the attack, it’s a bit second nature for me anyway, so I’ve been going for it since the first kilometer, even if I slowed a bit at the end. At least it’s good to not have any regrets. I gave it everything I had and it was a long day. It must have rained a lot last night because the tracks were churned up with lots of mud. It was hellish. My chances are looking slimmer though. After a day like that with 555 km to cover and opportunities to open up gaps, we more or less cancelled each other out. Mind you, it’s not the end of the world, you know, you have to keep things in perspective.”
Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues stuggled with navigation and finished more than seven minutes adrift of Coma.
Helder Rodrigues (PRT – Yamaha) 3rd, 4th OA
“It was a superb stage, long and with a bit of everything, as well as navigational difficulties. I tried to put pressure on Chaleco and I did manage to get closer to him. There’s still one stage left to go for it, anything is possible.”
Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHL – Aprilia) 4th, 3rd OA
“It was a stage that had everything, with sand and mud, before technical and quick tracks at the end. It was important for me to protect my position whilst Marc and Cyril battled for first place. There were 40 to 50 kilometers where it was difficult, but I managed to get to the finish and there’s only one day left now. I’m happy even if I would have liked to have a bit more of a battle today. The Dakar is finishing now and, like we say in Chile, you have to ‘keep a cool head’ for what’s left. Marc and Cyril have lots of experience, eight or nine Dakars, I think, whilst I’ve only done four. They have better, well-developed bikes. Ours is a work in progress.”
Quinn Cody (USA – Honda) 5th, 9th OA
“It was a tough stage, really long. The first part was fun, it was sandy and I had a really good time. Then we came onto the part where the trucks had gone in front of us and they’d just made huge holes and mud puddles. That was really challenging. I’m just riding the way I would normally ride, slowly building speed with the road-book and I feel pretty comfortable with it now. I definitely want to come back. I’m going to try and put something together to come back next year and come at it to race, not just to finish. I’m trying to learn and do my best. It’s working well and I’m really happy with the way things are going.”
2011 Dakar Rally Stage 12 Results:
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 06:42:42
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 06:43:19
3. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 06:50:03
KTM’s Ruben Faria remains eighth overall in the competition despite finishing nearly 17 minutes behind Coma.
4. Francisco Lopez Contardo, CHL (Aprilia) 06:52:45
5. Quinn Cody, USA (Honda) 06:58:27
6. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 06:59:39
7. Frans Verhoeven, BEL (BMW) 07:03:11
8. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (KTM) 07:06:01
9. Jean de Azevedo, BRA (KTM) 07:08:46
10. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (Yamaha) 07:09:22
2011 Dakar Rally Overall Standings:
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 49:57:37
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 50:14:13
3. Francisco Lopez Contardo, CHL (Aprilia) 50:57:04
4. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 51:40:08
5. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (KTM) 53:03:51
6. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 53:28:58
7. Jean de Azevedo, BRA (KTM) 53:48:12
8. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 54:04:20
9. Quinn Cody, USA (Honda) 55:36:48
10. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (Yamaha) 55:56:33
Video courtesy of Dakar.com